New York

‘My Father and I Decided We Should Try to Honor Her Wishes’

Dear Diary:

“When I die,” my mother always told us, “I want my ashes sprinkled down Fifth Avenue, from Bergdorf’s to Bonwit Teller.”

We always laughed at the idea. But after she died, my father and I decided we should try to honor her wishes and somehow get her ashes onto Fifth Avenue.

I remembered that there were potted plants in front of Saks Fifth Avenue and suggested we try to leave her ashes in one of those.

Figuring that what we had in mind might be illegal, we waited until about 11 o’clock one night. My father drove down Fifth Avenue and we pulled up in front of Saks.

I got out of the back seat with a little trowel, dug into one of the planters and put in the ashes. I got back into the car, and we tore off without being noticed, pleased with our little caper.

When we passed Saks at Christmastime in the years after that, we would pause and say, “Hi, Mom.”

— Tony Fradkin


Dear Diary:

I was rushing to a concert when I stopped at a food truck for an order of nachos.

I continued walking on upper Broadway until I found a bench where I could sit and eat.

Oh no! There was no fork in my bag. A light rain began to fall, and I hunched to the side with my tattered raincoat pulled over me and began to eat the nachos with my hands.

Suddenly, I realized someone was standing in front of me.

Looking up, I saw an older woman holding out a pristine plastic fork wrapped in cellophane.

I thanked her profusely. She responded by producing three napkins.

— Jeanine Briefel


Dear Diary:

I was waiting with my children at a B103 stop on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. My daughter, who was 6 at the time, found a gold ring on the ground. Even I could tell that it wasn’t made of cheap plastic. Maybe an engagement ring?

“Someone lost their ring,” my daughter said.

“They probably need it back,” my son said.

Later that day, we returned to the bus stop and taped up a flier: “Found here: Lost gold ring; clear gem. Text me a description and we’ll return it to you.”

Two days later, a text arrived. The young woman who sent it said she had recently been dumped by her long-term boyfriend.

The ring was a gift from him, and in what she said was a moment of healthy self-awareness at the B103 stop, she had decided to drop it right there.

When she did, she said, she felt a huge weight lift. She didn’t want the ring back, she added, but it was kind of us to offer.

I read the text to my kids. A long conversation about love, marriage, heartbreak and moving on ensued.

“What should we do with the ring?” I asked.

In the end, we returned to the bus stop, where my daughter placed the ring under a chunk of concrete so that it could stay lost.

— Tate Hausman


Dear Diary:

It was a warm Fourth of July in South Ozone Park, and my family and I were having our annual barbecue. After preparing the hot dogs, rice and potato salad and barbecuing the chicken, we sat down to eat, and I started pouring drinks.

It wasn’t until I filled the cups that I realized we were out of ice. My mom said to run to the corner deli to get a bag or two before they ran out. I grabbed my wallet and darted off.

When I got to the deli, I grabbed two of the four bags that were left, put them on the counter and handed the owner a $20 bill.

He said he didn’t have any change.

I said that was fine, he could keep the coins.

“No,” he said casually. “I don’t have any dollar bills.”

I was confused and frustrated.

“Bro, how do you run a deli and not have dollar bills?” I yelled.

“Could you just help me out a little and let me have it?” he said with a shrug.

I was so stunned that I didn’t bother to argue. I just left with the ice. I was out $5, but the drinks were getting warm.

— Shawn Sinanan


Dear Diary:

When I was a graduate student at the Manhattan School of Music in the mid-1970s, I had a work-study job covering the front desk after hours, which involved answering the occasional phone call and doodling on message pads.

One day, I was asked to deliver some flowers around the corner, on Claremont Avenue, to the pianist Rosina Lhévinne. A friend who was a voice major and more worldly than I was begged to come along.

Arriving at a ground-floor apartment, we were greeted by Ms. Lhévinne’s caregiver. After accepting the flowers, the caregiver asked if we would like to meet Ms. Lhévinne.

We found her in bed looking frail. She extended a hand. All I could think to do was kiss it, as if she were royalty.

She asked which instrument I played.

Trombone, I said.

“Baahh,” she answered in a low whisper, imitating the sound.

— Richard Clark

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee




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